Asa Winstanley – Middle East Monitor June 1, 2019
As I write, the latest episode of the “Labour anti-Semitism crisis” is playing out with depressing predictability on social and news media.
Pete Willsman, a left-wing member of Labour’s rule-making national executive, has reportedly had his party membership suspended after a secret audio recording – apparently of him – was released by LBC radio.
In the recording, Willsman apparently states a bland and obvious truth – that the Israeli embassy has been involved in whipping up the “Labour anti-Semitism” story as a weapon against leader Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party more generally.
It’s the latest testament to the sad state of the Labour Party’s “soft left” that some of its most-prominent young voices have repeatedly thrown veterans like Willsman under the bus in order to appease the Israel lobby and the Labour right.
But of course, such efforts are doomed to failure.
Every time this happens, I condemn it on Twitter. One of the reactions I read from some in reply, at times like this, is that Israeli and pro-Israeli lies and exaggerations about anti-Semitism are “crying wolf,” and that one day the real “Wolf of Anti-Semitism” will come knocking at the door – and nobody will pay attention.
There’s much truth to this. I do believe that the long running campaign of smears about a non-existent “crisis” of anti-Semitism among the Labour Party membership has led to some real instances of anti-Semitism, as the left-wing group Jewish Voice for Labour has repeatedly warned.
Yet in another way this reaction, in my view, fundamentally misunderstands something – it supposes that the Israeli government’s expressed concerns for anti-Semitism are real and sincere. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, as well as the illusion of anti-Semitism where there is none, Israel increasingly relies on real cases of anti-Semitism and depends on it to shore-up international political support. This perhaps counterintuitive dynamic applies more in the past decade than ever before, but it has a long history.
As leading Palestinian intellectual and academic Joseph Massad has explained, Zionism – the Israeli state’s official settler-colonial ideology – is by its very definition an inherently anti-Semitic ideology: “If there should be a definition of anti-Semitism to be adopted by the Labour Party (or any other political party or institution) in Britain today, it should include the condemnation of anti-Semitic and colonial expressions such as: ‘Israel is the Jewish state,’ or ‘Israel is the state of the Jewish people’ or Israel ‘speaks for Jews,’ or colonising the land of the Palestinians is a ‘Jewish value’”.
As Massad has also detailed, Zionism has a long and sordid history of collaboration and contact with the world’s most anti-Semitic and violently racist ideologies, including even Hitler’s Nazi government, in the case of one right-wing Zionist militia (one of which’s leaders later went on to become an Israeli prime minister).
This goes all the way back to foundational Zionist thinker Theodor Herzl himself, who wrote predicting that “the Governments of all countries scourged by anti-Semitism will be keenly interested in assisting us to obtain [the] sovereignty we want” in his colonial project. In his diaries he similarly predicted that “the anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies”.
As Massad explains: “These were not slips or errors but indeed a long-term strategy that Zionism and Israel continue to deploy to this very day.”
And so Herzl’s prediction has come to pass. Today, the fascist and even neo-Nazi political parties seeing electoral revival all over Europe are strong supporters of Israel.
Yair, the son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, recently posed for a photo – posted to Twitter – of him smiling and shaking hands with Viktor Orban, the anti-Semitic Prime Minister of Hungary who once praised his country’s war-time collaborator with Hitler’s Holocaust as an “exceptional statesman”.
Rafi Eitan – a former senior Mossad officer – last year praised Germany’s resurgent electoral neo-Nazi movement, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) – despite he himself being responsible for capturing leading Nazi Adolf Eichmann in 1961.
“I wish you with all my heart that you will be strong enough to end the policy of open borders,” Eitan gushed in the video, calling on AfD to “stop the further Islamization of your country and protect its citizens from terrorism and crime. In Israel, in Germany, in Europe. Let us do this together.”
Today, Israel is providing an anti-Semitism laundering service to historically fascist and Nazi political groups all over Europe. All the group in question needs to do is declare its love for Israel and Netanyahu’s support can be assured.
Most recently in Germany, the parliament there falsely declared the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement “anti-Semitic,” in a non-binding vote supported by all the main political parties.
The AfD did not support the motion – but only because they considered that it went too easy on the campaign for Palestinian human rights. They put forward their own motion which would have banned the BDS movement outright.
In their perverse, twin ideologies, anti-Semites and Zionists both agree that Jews are “alien” and do not really belong in Europe. They instead must be pushed to become settlers in the Israeli colony currently occupying historic Palestine.
The BDS movement, by contrast, is an explicitly anti-racist movement, which rejects all bigotries, including anti-Semitism. Which side are you on?